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  • Gwangju 2019 Ready to Host the World


    (ATR) The 18th edition of the FINA World Aquatic Championships are set to make a splash in Gwangju, South Korea, just over two months from now.
    Dr. Cho at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang (ATR)

    The competition runs from July 12 to August 11. Some 15,000 participants are expected but millions more around the world will watch, as the event will be seen in more than 200 companies.

    Dr. Young-Teck Cho, vice president and secretary general of the organizing committee, gave Around the Rings a wide-ranging interview about what to expect.

    (ATR) It looks like Gwangju had three applications for every volunteer position. It was an international process -- how many countries are represented?

    (Dr. Cho) Our volunteering program was very successful! More than 9,000 people applied to volunteer in all areas of the Championships. All applications were thoroughly reviewed, and 2,793 volunteers have been selected for the FINA World Championships and 1,303 volunteers for the FINA World Masters Championships.

    Selected volunteers were informed of their activities and role by the end of April and will be trained by professionals to be best prepared. They will officially take part in the different activities starting from June.

    Volunteers from over 30 countries applied, including Korea, Japan, USA and Australia.

    All volunteers will be issued with a uniform which consists of two polo shirts, one pair of pants, one jacket, one cap and one wet bag and will be provided with a per diem allowance of KRW 18,000 ($15.44). For foreign volunteers and volunteers from outside Gwangju, accommodation and additional KRW 10,000 ($8.58) per diem will be provided.

    (ATR) April was a big month. You announced successful volunteer applicants from Korean universities. Are the students from sport management or administration programs? Or could any majors apply?

    (Dr. Cho) University students account for 70 percent of all volunteers. While the volunteering program was open to all types of profiles and backgrounds, the students were called upon mainly to provide support with translation and interpretation activities during the event. The selected students are therefore mainly coming from literature and foreign languages majors, ideally with a background in sports management.

    (ATR) What skills do you look for in student volunteers?

    (Dr. Cho) Volunteers are an integral part of the Championships contributing their skills, strength, enthusiasm, and experience. In addition, volunteers are the face of any major sporting event as they are in direct contact with athletes, officials and visitors.

    We are looking for volunteers with strong skills in hospitality and a high level of English to ensure the smooth delivery of the Championships.

    (ATR) In PyeongChang, sometimes it was a problem to find English-speaking volunteers. How will you avoid that in Gwangju?

    (Dr. Cho) The application process was open internationally. The goal was to recruit volunteers from around the world, with distinct profiles and of course to ensure that as many languages as possible are covered during the event, first and foremost English.

    Volunteer interpreters will be present at the Athletes Village and the competition venues, where athletes will spend most of their time. In addition, for any urgent request, a smartphone-based interpretation app will be available to facilitate the communication between foreigners and volunteers.

    (ATR) How will you make the fan experience memorable and different?

    Swimming venue (Gwangju World Championships)
    (Dr. Cho) To showcase our culture and traditions which play a major role when it comes to creating a unique and memorable fan experience.

    Most of the fans will be visiting Korea for the first time and it is a great opportunity for them to be out of the ordinary: Korea’s culture is so different. We are working closely with the Ministry of Culture and the tourism office to provide the fans and visitors with a genuine Korean experience – K-pop concerts, traditional dances, and typical dishes will be an integral part of the festivities.

    We are also engaging with athletes and fans around the world via our social media channels – everyone can follow up on Twitter, on Facebook or Instagram.

    It also goes without saying that the city will be dressed top to bottom in FINA World Championships colors. The spirit of Gwangju 2019 will be felt everywhere we go!

    (ATR) Will sponsors have strong presence? IE - sponsor village; sponsor pavilions? Did Gwangju meet sponsorship targets?

    (Dr. Cho) Building strong relationships
    Mudeungsan National Park (Gwangju World Championships)
    with our partners is of utmost importance. The great support they provide enables us to grow more every day and ensure the successful delivery of the Championships. Currently, we have established partnerships with 13 leading companies, including FINA partners.

    The FINA World Championships is a great event for promotion. In addition to be featured on TV, in the Championships venues and across the city of Gwangju, sponsors will be given a space to promote their brand and products at the Market Street, located in the main venue. The Market Street is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of spectators throughout the Championships as it will feature Korean handcraft stands and many more animated stands aiming at discovering the Korean culture.

    (ATR) What is your biggest challenge ahead of championships?

    (Dr. Cho) Let’s rather call it priority than a challenge! Today, our priority is to ensure the impeccable logistics to welcome the athletes and visitors in the best way possible and to make their experience unforgettable.

    A great number of National Federations, broadcasters and media are visiting Gwangju in the lead up to the Championships to check on all facilities and competition sites.

    We are very confident that they will feel at home here – our entire team is working hard on this. The final step will be to simply let the Championships begin!

    (ATR) Technology is very important to this event. What is benefit of cameras 16 meters high? That seems very far away.

    (Dr. Cho) This type of camera is often required by TV broadcasters in charge of filming the high diving competitions. Athletes are diving starting from 20 meters for women and 27 meters for men, which explains why cameras must be installed over 16 meters height.

    (ATR) Gwangju has many things to offer visitors. If you had to recommend just one Korean or local dish to visitors, what would it be? If you had to recommend just one site to visit, what would it be?

    (Dr. Cho) This is a tricky question! Gwangju is well known for its rich cuisine. Located in the heart of Jeolla province, it brings together the best of the nation’s ingredients to create the finest cuisine. You are guaranteed to be served the tastiest and best dishes in the region, such as Kimchi, Bibimbap, Bulgogi and Sundubu-jjigae!

    As for the best place to visit in Gwangju, for nature lovers, that would be visiting the Mudeungsan National Park. For metropolitans, we would recommend taking a walk on Chungjang-ro Street.

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